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This just in from the NSS‘s Newsline email (which you should subscribe to, as well as joining or donating to the NSS, of course):

Shropshire County Council Cabinet has decided to proceed with its plan to create six new faith schools. Twelve existing schools are to be closed, the pupils from each pair going to a new faith school.

Four of the schools to be closed are inclusive Community Schools. The changes will result in the loss of hundreds of community school places to the advantage of the Church of England. The chairman of Governors of at least two of the community schools destined to close do not want to become part of a faith school, and fear the religious agenda.

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OK, so it’s a bit off-topic – except inasmuch as it might have fooled a few creationists – but here’s another classic BBC April Fool: Flying penguins! Priceless. There’s also a featurette on how they made it.
Not available for download, sadly, and only on iPlayer for a few more days, but I bet somebody will rip it and post it somewhere on the interwebs. Do please give me a shout if you find a downloadable version…

From the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s website:

For the past eleven years the organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), representing the 57 Islamic States, has been tightening its grip on the throat of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yesterday, 28 March 2008, they finally killed it.

Disgraceful. But not unexpected, given the apathy of the West…

Hat tip: NSS.

News reaches us from the other side of the Atlantic of a family who suffered dire consequences as a result of complaining that their son was required to sing a song of worship by his music teacher for a grade.

His teacher also instructed him to point skyward at certain points of the song. She said that he was to do this to show he loved God.

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The quote marks are there lest you think this is my actual opinion! This staggering item just came in via the National Secular Society’s newsletter (www.secularism.org.uk/newsline.html):

yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=1117&p=community&a=6

You’ll notice, of course, that there’s a “comment on article” link at the top of the page… 😉

For the sake of women in the Yemen (and other islamic coutries), please spread this item as widely as possible.

Just a quick post to let you know of a fascinating programme in an excellent series: today’s In Our Time (presented by Melvyn Bragg on Radio 4) is on the subject of genetic mutation – “The fuel for the Darwinian factory” as one contributor puts it – and how it gives rise to evolution. Well worth a listen, and worth downloading for future reference (not to mention refuting wingnuts…). Get it while it’s hot!

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One God Further…

Back when people were posting birthday wishes for Professor D on richarddawkins.net, I came across a post from Jo Swannell Owen with a design she’d done for the occasion. It was based on Richard’s quote, “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in; some of us just go one god further” combined with Bertrand Russell’s famous comment about the celestial teapot. I wrote to Jo suggesting the design would make a dandy T shirt or lapel pin, and she responded. And lo, it has almost come to pass! I got an email from Jo the other day to say the “Tea shirts” should be available from December 10th. To find out more, and to get a Tea shirt of your very own, bookmark onegodfurther.co.uk (motto: “Dunking the soft biscuit of religion in the hot tea of science”) and keep an eye out for the official release.